A week of running in strange times

Last week was a massive week for me running wise as I ran 43.2 miles and climbed 7,245ft the most I had run in a very long time and the most climbing for me in a week ever. The runs were all off road over a variety of open moorland, fell and trail. The week started off as normal as any other with the news about the Corona Virus being a distraction but ended with the Corona Virus being the most important issue the world has faced for some considerable time.
Monday and the week started off as usual with the East Pennine Orienteering Club run. We met at the Truly Scrumptious café at Rishworth and had an interesting run round the local area. I say interesting because some of the trails had not been used for years and they are unlikely to be used again for some time! It was a good run though as always and in the café afterwards we talked about the Corona Virus and the possible impact it might have on our lives. Little did we know then that events would overtake us and this would be our last run together for some time.
Tuesday and I decided to escape the escalating madness on my own. I had a run in mind but couldn’t decide if I wanted to do it. As I drove over the tops from Oxenhope to Hebden Bridge I remembered a small layby at the bottom of Haworth Old Road where I could park up and do my run from there. The run started with a climb up to Shackleton Knoll but it was worth it for the views. The sky was clear and I had uninterrupted views of Midgely Moor to my left, Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall with Stoodley Pike watching over them in front of me, Hardcastle Crags and in the distance Boulsworth Hill to my right and behind me Walshaw Moor as bleak and unforgiving as always.
It was surreal to stand there on my own looking round at all this natural beauty, so peaceful and tranquil and yet in the knowledge that the world was heading towards a pandemic and our lives would be changed forever. I carried on my run down to Walshaw, through Hardcastle Crags and up to Blake Dean. From Blake Dean I ran up to Walshaw Dean reservoirs and over the hill back to Walshaw and back too my car via Lumb waterfalls. I saw two people walking a couple of farmers on quad bikes and a lot of sheep. It was a perfect run for self-isolating from people and the world.
Thursday and myself and a couple of friends decide to go for a run over Ogden Moor. By now we’re getting increasingly worried about a possible lockdown and the effect it will have on our ability to get out and run. Running is vital for me and my mental health but if they are restrictions I will have to abide by them the same as everyone else. With this in mind and fearing that the next run might be our last we headed off. We did part of the old Ovenden Moor fell race route and then went to the trig point at Nab Hill before heading over to Warley Moor reservoir, down into Luddenden Dean and back to Ogden Water via Standing Stones. It was a great day with stunning views over the Calder Valley. Getting out and taking in nature is so important at the moment. It gives me a release from everything else that is going on and for a short while I can forget about the Corona Virus and breath the freshest air around for miles.
Sunday comes around and the Corona Virus is getting more and more serious on a daily basis. Things are changing so fast. I was in the club on Friday night when the government announced all pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants where to close indefinitely with effect from midnight. This meant it would be my last Friday night out for a while. So once again on Sunday a couple of us set off at 8:00am to do a recce of the Heptonstall 15 route in the knowledge that this might be our last run like this for a while. The weather was bright sunshine once again as we set off through the woods and over the moors. I surprised myself by having enough energy and strength to finish the run although the last few miles I ran on my own as I daren’t stop and wait for the others to catch up in case I got cramp and couldn’t move. What surprised me was the amount of people at Blake Dean and Hardcastle Crags getting away from everything. It was packed although I managed to avoid contact with anyone by going off the normal paths and by not stopping. What I remember most about this run is heading away from Walshaw Dean reservoirs on a road that leads to nowhere and just ends. From this road you can see open moorland with no paths or trails leading over to Boulsworth Hill just over the border in Lancashire. I’ve always wanted to run from here to Boulsworth Hill and experience what it is like to be in the middle of a raw, bleak moorland untouched by human hands and feel connected to nature at its most natural. If I get the chance over the next couple of weeks this is a run I am going to do.
And that’s what last week was all about for me. Getting back to nature and getting away from everything that is going on in the world even if only for a couple of hours and reconnecting with nature, taking in the views and breathing fresh, clean air. There’s an increasing possibility that I and others might not be able to do this very soon if people decide to continue to go to the countryside en masse, clogging up the very place they think will be quiet and peaceful and putting everyone at risk of catching the Corona Virus. I have some great memories I can look back and if we do go into lockdown I have no regrets about not getting out and enjoying the moors and fells I love so much for one last time.

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